Door WILL NOT Open – Door WILL NOT Close

Why do “Door Open” and “Door Close” buttons in elevators almost never work?  Every elevator has them (it’s probably required), but they rarely do anything.  In fact, there is only one elevator I use regularly that has functional buttons.  And, everyone who rides that elevator knows it and uses the buttons all the time.  People want the buttons and they are there anyway, so why not have them actually do what they say they do?  This is one of those great mysteries that will likely keep me up all night.  Maybe I’ll just shoot an email to Otis and see if I can get to the bottom of it.  You go to sleep…I’ll let you know if I learn anything.

2/18/05 – UPDATE: I did email Otis Elevator Company with my question, to which they kindly and promptly replied.  If you are even remotely curious, click here for their response.

The door close button works in three operating

  1. On fireman’s service (FS). When firefighter uses car by turning key and putting it in service mode, to close the door, he or she has to hold it down continuously for it to close. In North American code, it’s required.
  2. Used in attendant operation. Someone operating the elevator will use it to service passengers. You see this, typically, in places like the Space Needle.
  3. Normal operation, but it depends. In many North America code, it prohibits normal riding public from doing anything for but FS or attendant, but some require it to exist for FS, but not for the riding public.

Also, the 1988 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) code – if you have a hall call button, there is a minimum amount of time you need to keep the doors open and a door close button can’t override that – time depends on how far the hall call is away from elevator. Depends on configuration.

Therefore, elevators installed after ADA can’t have door close button when a hall call button is used to call the elevator. For elevators that are grandfathered in, the buttons could, essentially, still work.

In some local code, you have it delegated that it can’t work for that reason – and there are also some building owners that choose not to have it work for passengers because it:

  1. Affects service. You might have a call button that’s hit, and just as it’s about to close, someone puts there hand in there and reverses the door operation – and that makes for a longer ride – more time not spent moving people around.
  2. Building owners sometimes get complaints that there are rude passengers who are in a hurry and hit the door close button, even if someone is asking to have the door kept open.
  3. It’s needed for fireman’s service. You’ll also see it more in operation in other parts of the world where they don’t have the same code requirements as North America – or you may not see it at all.

I hope this explanation helps.”

Indeed it does.  Many thanks to Silvio Albino, Sr. Manager – Communications, Otis Elevator Company.